Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Welcoming the Class of 2011

Yesterday was the start of our pre-orientation program at VLS, which we are calling Jump Start.  This is our first year of Jump Start, and we are learning alongside our students.   I feel truly lucky; I have an amazing group of students who are taking advantage of opportunities and giving me plenty to think about for the upcoming year.
Some pieces of advice about the upcoming year I have passed on to students so far this week:
1) Hold off  reading  Getting to Maybe until Christmas break.  Some of my students have already purchased exam prep  books based on how well they  are ranked on Amazon. I love Getting to Maybe, but I think it overwhelms and confuses students if they read it during their first semester. The examples in the books are fantastic, but students need to understand a little about the law before they can understand how to learn from the examples in the book, not just copy them.
2) Getting your life in order is your #1 priority during this period of time.  If you need to visit the doctor, take an animal to the vet, or get the oil changed, do it now.  Life is about to change in many ways, and you will be grateful you don't have these errands hanging over your head.
3) Build relationships with your classmates now.  This is the time to see your classmates at their best, before everyone becomes stressed out, cranky, or depressed.  Be aware that everyone is at their best, but they are also putting on a show. Everyone is nervous and overwhelmed the first couple weeks of school, no matter what they say. 
4) If you have a disability, see your ADA compliance officer now. It's too late to decide you need an accommodation a week or two before exams (temporary disabilities excluded). Even if you are on the fence about whether you will use the accommodation during exams, take care of those issues early. Locating paperwork and reports can be a nightmare, and that is another thing you don't want to be worried about while you are preparing for exams.
5) If you are not certain of what note taking method (handwriting v. typing) you want to use, try both during orientation.  There is no one "correct" method of taking notes. There are dangers to either method.  See what fits your learning style best. Chose the method the produces the most useful (not the most voluminous) notes. 
(RCF)

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